Why people behave the way they do

Jul 23, 2020

Why people behave the way they do

-3 min read-

Dramatic Change provides a unique opportunity for teams to explore their team challenges in a safe environment. Last time we touched on the fact that how we feel, affects what we think, and do.  If feeling comes first, what affects how we feel in the first place?

Only now are neuroscientists starting to understand the way our emotions drive our behaviours. Historically it has been generally understood that our thinking determines both our actions and how we feel about things.  But now we can see what happens inside the brain it is clear that our capacity to think is a way of finding out what our body brains have already decided. We are essentially rationalising, not rational, systems.  

We come into the world as a baby and then grow and develop over the years. You may not be surprised to hear that the way we make sense of the world is through experience.  Those experiences are attached to emotions first and then to language. It’s what shapes our brain up until the age of about 24.  After that it’s our store house of experience that we rely on.  Essentially, our body brains create algorithms of how to respond to a situation so nanosecond by nanosecond, every experience we encounter triggers an emotional response in the body and brain.  That is what determines what action to take, including both how, and what we think.

Our emotions are the primary drivers of behaviour.   The emotions themselves combine together to create feelings, just as the primary colours combine to make the whole of the colour palette.  It’s argued we come into the world with 8 basic emotions and the experiences that trigger these when we are small create the algorithm for the way they are triggered when we’re adults.  That means whilst we all experience the same emotions, the palette of feelings each person has is different and so are their triggers.

Because of the algorithms triggering our behaviour, we can find ourselves stuck in negative patterns or responding in unhelpful ways to people or certain situations. This shows up in the workplace in numerous ways such as a lack of trust, feeling anxious or angry towards others, shouting, turf-wars and a lack of creativity (to name a few).  

When we become aware of these situations, we can use various techniques to attach different emotions to the triggers.  For example, if you feel sick to your stomach every time your boss comes to your desk it will limit your ability to engage effectively with them.  Raising your awareness about that experience and attaching a more positive emotion to the trigger can eliminate this. Coaching is an excellent intervention and often the most successful method of resolving the situation.

More complex issues can affect the performance of a team, department or even a whole organisation. Individual coaching can only do so much where teams/departments/organisations are at play. After all, the individual only has a singular perspective of the problem. A group approach is often more effective but traditional approaches can take time.

That’s where Dramatic Change comes in. We use a combination of individual and group work. These proven techniques quickly surface what is going on, determine a common purpose, and establish new behaviours the whole team can draw upon to embed the desired change. Results are visible in a very short timeframe.

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